Traveling With Diabetes Supplies

With proper planning, you can still enjoy the experiences of traveling to new places or visiting family and friends. Part of that planning includes:

  • Discussing your travel plans with your doctor
  • Asking your doctor for written prescriptions for all your medications and diabetes supplies
  • Getting a travel letter from your doctor describing your diabetes plan. This is optional, not required by U.S. airport security.
  • Packing the proper amount of diabetes supplies that you'll need for your trip. (Note: To make it easier to get through airport security, keep your insulin in the same box that it came in with the original Rx label on it.)
    Read TSA guidelines

Your Travel Letter

Before you leave, ask your doctor to write a letter on official stationery that you can give to doctors in the places that you visit. It should have the following information:

  • Your diabetes treatment plan so doctors in the places you travel can understand your needs.
  • Your need to carry syringes or needles for insulin pens and lancets as part of your insulin injection therapy. Having this will be helpful if your luggage is examined at airport security checkpoints. Be sure to keep your syringes, needles, pens, and lancets in the same boxes that they came in with the original Rx label on them.
  • A list of the supplies you need for your diabetes care.

This medical documentation regarding your diabetes is not required by U.S. airport security and will not exempt you from the security screening process.

Your Supplies

You should have a diabetes kit that's specially packed for traveling. It should contain the same items that are in your regular diabetes kit, but enough of them to last you for the length of time that you'll be away. If you're traveling by plane, be sure to keep your diabetes kit close by you at all times - NEVER check it in your luggage!

At the Airport

Notify the screener that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. You have the option of requesting a visual inspection of your insulin and diabetes associated supplies. As of August, 2006 the following diabetes-related supplies and equipment are allowed through the checkpoint once they have been screened: 

  • Lancets, blood glucose meters, blood glucose meter test strips, alcohol swabs, meter-testing solutions.
  • Insulin and insulin loaded dispensing products (vials or box of individual vials, jet injectors, pens, infusers, and preloaded syringes).
  • Insulin in any form or dispenser must be properly marked with a professionally printed label identifying the medication or manufacturer’s name or pharmaceutical label.
  • Unlimited number of unused syringes when accompanied by insulin or other injectable medication.
  • Insulin pump and insulin pump supplies (cleaning agents batteries, plastic tubing, infusion kit, catheter, and needle).
  • Notify screeners if you are wearing an insulin pump.
  • Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin with professionally printed labels identifying the medication or manufacturer's name or pharmacy label.  
  • Glucagon emergency kit.
  • Urine ketone test strips.
  • Unlimited number of used syringes when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container.
  • Let screeners know if you are experiencing low blood sugar and are in need of medical assistance.

When Flying Across Multiple Time Zones

Your total insulin dosage is designed to work for about 24 hours, so if you change three or more time zones when flying across the country or overseas, you might need to adjust your injection schedule. (Note: It's not necessary to adjust your insulin schedule when traveling by boat because time changes occur more slowly.)

Discuss your insulin needs and time zone changes with your doctor or diabetes educator so you can know how to fine-tune your dosage, especially if you mix insulins in one syringe or take more than one injection daily. 

Smart Tips for Flying

  • In general, when you fly east you lose time, so you may need less insulin.
  • When you fly west, you gain time, so you may need more insulin.
  • Test your blood glucose more often on the day that you fly.
  • As a general rule, reset your watch when you land.
  • On long flights, walk up and down the aisle every 90 minutes to exercise.
  • Carry some food with you in case there's no meal or snack served on your flight, or if the food that you're supposed to be served is delayed.
  • Keep your diabetes supplies close by you at all times - never check them in your luggage!
  • If you use an insulin pump, it may be a good idea to carry syringes and insulin with you as a back-up in the event that airport security overseas requires you to place the pump into your checked luggage.




The BD Diabetes Learning Center describes the causes of diabetes, its symptoms, and diabetes complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. This site contains detailed information about blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection and safe sharps disposal. Interactive quizzes, educational literature downloads and animated demonstrations help to teach diabetes care skills.

Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

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